Guardians of Power: IT’s Role in the New Data Democracy


If a remotely conscious adult makes about 35,000 decisions every day, I’d say an ambitious working professional (like you or me) makes at least one order of magnitude more daily decisions.

Why? Achievement stems from sets of decisions. In every decision we use the information we have available to make a choice, to make a move that we hope puts us closer to our goals.

It stands to reason that more useful information -- through data -- would position us to make these decisions better.

As immersed participants in the age of information,  we all cherish access to information as a basic tenet of modern democratic society. Even more, as professionals in the vague broad field of “information technology”, most of us working in the tech sector have a soft place in our hearts for knowledge. Some even call us knowledge workers.

And clearly, the data reflects our values: there are 4.4 Trillion Gigabytes of data in the digital universe today and it is rapidly growing in all directions. And almost all of this 4.4 Trillion Gigabytes likely rests in the hands of your friendly neighborhood IT department.

With Power Comes Responsibility

The people working in IT departments in organizations around the world are the gatekeepers and guardians of the organization’s data.We have armies of engineers and technicians collecting, storing,analyzing, reporting, maintaining these vast amounts of information -- and perhaps most importantly, deciding who has access.

First Order or New Republic?

The role of the IT department in shaping a new democratic approach to data-driven-decisions in a company cannot be under-estimated.How do they decide what is fair? Reasonable? Is it productive for the company? Is it even logical? Will that mysterious black box that isIT even grant you access? What will it cost? So many questions arise. 

From the side of the technologists, we have tradeoffs to consider and navigate. Corporate policies are not always clear.(insert period, not comma) We fear losing control but are excited about distributing data analysis and mining across the organization. We worry about losing relevance but have the ambition that draws us to focus our time on more critical decisions . 

“It’s easy to lie with statistics. It’s hard to tell the truth without statistics.” – Andrejs Dunkels

What are the advantages? What are the social, cultural, or political challenges? How can technical departments mitigate these challenges?

Let’s Have a conversation

All these questions don’t have clear and obvious universal answers -- as we discover the value in breaking out of the traditional silos of information, we are pressed to address these questions. So let's come together and talk. How do you navigate these questions?

Come join me at TAO's member event on Jan, 27

For me, knowledge is a core value. Information is a valuable resource. The better informed we are, the better decisions we make and the more we can achieve together. I wake up each day with a resolve to make it easy for all people (especially non-technical folks) to access wisdom from data through intelligent, intuitive technology. Each perspective on a relevant piece of data could bring about new insights, each person in our society can use this  But we need the guardians of this powerful asset to guide the way to democratized data -- let’s bring the power of data into the hands of all

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